Whenever I think of that word, my first association is with something that tastes incredibly nasty, like castor oil ( yes, I’m old enough to remember castor oil) or the cringe in my mouth when I accidentally bite down on an antibiotic pill.

I have also had way too many highly unpleasant and even scary experiences with the ever surprising “side effects” of Western medicine. Which often means I am very likely to initially feel worse before I hopefully get better after taking some form of prescription medication. I have been TOLD by various authorities that whatever I’m putting into my mouth or on my skin is good for me, but my body, in it’s infinite wisdom, often has different ideas as to what good really means and will go out of it’s way to reject what it perceives as toxic and not healing at all.

In our Western worldview, we need medicine because something has shown up in our lives that is bad or wrong and healing means that we make this bad thing go away. And when it’s gone we can return to our original status quo which is often less than truly healthy to begin with.

Taking medicine is associated with some kind of a problem that has to be changed or fixed or solved. This problem is also something that is often perceived as separate from us and something that has been inflicted upon us from the outside.

And it’s very often something that makes us feel victimized and powerless.

But there is a whole other conception of medicine and what it means to heal that comes from more earth-based indigenous cultures.

In the indigenous approach, healing is linked to the concept of personal power and it’s relationship to wholeness. If we are sick or struggling or suffering it is because we have lost our sense of being whole and complete. We have difficulty finding our connection to our natural power sources. And sometimes forget that we have any power at all.

Illness is a result of having become disconnected from essential parts of ourselves like our joy, our passion or our sense of purpose. Our distress is a sign that we have somehow misplaced our capacity to tap into our built-in deep guidance. We lose sight of the fact that we have a wise healer living inside of us at all times.

From the indigenous point of view, healing is much more connected to wellness than it is to illness. It is a positive baseline state. And it is our responsibility to maintain it. It is up to us to cultivate the medicine of our natural genius, our brilliance, and the shining light that we are born with that points us unerringly back to our intrinsic wholeness when we lose our way.


In this conception of healing, medicine isn’t something that makes us screw up our faces and say “Yuck”. Medicine is something that makes our jaws drop open in awe and say “WOW!”

Our medicine isn’t separate from us. It’s not something that we have. It’s something that we are.

Our medicine isn’t only for our personal use although that’s where we need to start. We can’t bring healing to our larger community if we don’t know what it means to be fully and completely ourselves, deliciously alive in our own skin.

But we are all pieces of an enormous puzzle. And we all have something of value to contribute to this larger, mysterious whole. We are necessary and extremely vital parts of a greater community. We all bring something to this vast immensity that enhances what is already there. Something that raises energy and consciousness. That is a gift to the people in your extended clan networks. And that gift is indispensable and irreplaceable.

This bit of magic is our medicine.

It is terribly crucial to know WHAT our medicine is so that we can use it to heal our own lives. And to eventually contribute to the greater journey towards wholeness that we are all on together as human creators in this world.

Most of us, sadly, don’t think that we HAVE any medicine. Or if we do that it’s not very worthwhile.

But nothing could be further from the truth. We ALL have something that is EXTREMELY important. And necessary.

And we need to claim it.

If you’re still asking yourself the question ” What is my medicine?” Here’s a simple list of characteristics that can help you in the identification process. I got the idea for this list from one of my shamanic teachers, Jose Stevens in a lecture he gave recently.


1.) It’s a natural talent. It’s something that comes easily to you. It’s probably something that you also take for granted and even devalue because it IS so uncomplicated and so much a part of you. Because you can do it so effortlessly you assume that EVERYONE can do it.

2.) When you are channeling your medicine you feel GOOD. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy and tingly inside. It brings you a sense of radiance, fulfillment and contentment. You do it because it fills you with delight. This is another reason folks don’t take their medicine seriously. They have a hard time trusting something that comes so naturally and that makes them so happy.

3.) When you are channeling your medicine other people ALSO feel good. It lights folks up. THEY feel joyful, more vital, excited and alive. They want to be around you and be part of your medicine because it helps them connect with their OWN medicine.

4.) Your medicine opens doors for you. It takes you places and builds on itself. You get noticed, recognized and appreciated when you fully embrace your gift. People want it and want to give you opportunities to practice it.

So the next time you forget who you really are and your reason for being here on the planet, simply whip out this handy little checklist to help you find your way back to your unique medicine!





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